Satire, Militarism, and the Hunt
Moore’s works – especially the Irish Melodies – were read, reviewed, and imitated across British India during the nineteenth century. This essay outlines Moore’s place within the cultural field of the colony, tracing the ways in which his Orientalising representation of the East is both adopted and resisted by British (and some Indian) poets. It then focusses on early nineteenth-century Bombay, where a cluster of appropriations of Moore’s work appeared in the Oriental Sporting Magazine (OSM) from 1828 to 1833. The OSM, a monthly periodical, was read by the civil and military servants of the East India Company in the Bombay presidency, a constituency which also produced most of its contributors. The Irish Melodies became a unifying strand in the mythography of the magazine, transformed in a series of parodies into lyrical evocations of the hunting field, paeans of praise to the wild boar of India (a favourite target of the hunters), and satiric narratives of the hunters’ escapades and the social bonds between them. While often frivolous in intent – in keeping with the periodical’s recreational purpose – the parodies embody the values of masculinity and physical valour held in common by the group, and in this way reflect the wider culture of militarism and combat within British India. The essay explores the OSM poets’ political and literary appropriation of Moore’s opaque, allusive verse forms in the service of a colonial poetics of domination over India; it argues that such responses to Moore’s work also highlight the evolution of a distinctively anti-metropolitan voice in colonial Bombay.